Home Raw Feeding Feeding Puppies Weaning Puppies to Raw First Week on Raw

4 Weeks of Age

The first taste of raw my puppies get is at 4 weeks of age.  Do NOT start puppies on raw before they are 4 weeks old.

I start my puppies on a mixture of goat’s milk and ground meat for the first week.

I purchase unpasteurized, unprocessed goats’ milk from a local goat farmer.  Goat’s milk is the BEST milk substitute to use with puppies (or kittens) as it is the closest match to the bitch’s milk and is high in fat.  If you cannot find goat’s milk I would use one of the powdered milk substitutes they sell at the pet stores.  Cow’s milk, from the grocery store, is not worth feeding to puppies as it doesn’t have the nutrients they need.

The ground meat I start with is turkey.  It is lean (so it won’t overload the puppy with fat when mixed with the goat’s milk) and easy to find at most grocery stores.

Their first few meals start at 75% unpasteurized goat’s milk to 25% ground turkey.  During the first week I slowly reduce the milk and increase the meat portions of the mixture until they are getting all meat at the end of the week.  Also, after the first couple days I start mixing in another protein source.  After two more days I add another protein source.  I want the puppies exposed to 3 proteins sources their first week on raw.

So, a sample menu for the puppies’ first week on raw would look something like this:

Day 1 – 75% goat’s milk and 25% ground turkey
Day 2 – 75% goat’s milk and 25% ground turkey
Day 3 – 50% goat’s milk and 50% ground pork
Day 4 – 50% goat’s milk and 50% ground pork
Day 5 – 25% goat’s milk and 75% ground lamb
Day 6 – 25% goat’s milk and 75% ground lamb
Day 7 – 100% ground turkey

Here are some options for proteins:

Ground Turkey     Ground Beef
Ground Pork         Ground Venison
Ground Chicken    Ground Bison
Ground Lamb

If you notice that the puppies tend to prefer one type of meat over another you can mix the meats together.  My last litter of Crested puppies wanted turkey all the time.  I used turkey as 25 – 50% of the meat used when making the mixture.

To calculate how much of the mixture to make I take all the puppies’ weights and add them together then multiply that by 10%.

For example, my last litter of Crested puppies had the following weights at 4 weeks:

10 oz
8 oz
11 oz
9 oz

Add those together and you get 38 ounces.  Multiply by 10% an you get 3.8 so I would make about 4 ounces of the mixture for each feeding.  Divide that by the number of puppies and each puppy should be getting 1 oz per meal for a total of approximately 4 ounces per day.

Be sure to weigh the puppies EVERY DAY and recalculate the feeding amounts.  Puppies, especially large breeds, grow very quickly in the first few months.  You want to be sure you are giving them enough food.

Some puppies will be pigs and eat and eat and eat!  Others will be less interested in eating the new foods.  You want to make sure that each puppy gets a chance to eat their fair share and that none of them take food away from the others.

I take Mom away from the puppies about 3 hours before I plan to feed them their first raw meal.  I want them to be good and hungry when I offer them the food.

I mix the required amounts of milk and turkey together and then warm it up by pouring it in a bowl and placing the bowl in a tub of very hot water.  I use a cooking thermometer to check the temperature of the mixture.

You want the mixture to be at about 100 degrees F when you serve it.  The bitch’s body temperature is around 101 so the puppies are used to having very warm food (mother’s milk).  If the mixture is cold they are much more likely to refuse it.

I pour the mixture in short sided bowls (or small plates) and bring them to the whelping box.  I make sure I have one serving dish per puppy and that the mixture is divided evenly between the bowls.

Not having enough food or dishes to go around can cause food guarding issues in developing puppies.  It can also lead to puppies feeling the need to inhale their food (which can be dangerous whether you’re feeding raw or kibble) or the smaller/weaker puppies could be pushed away and not get their share of the food.

I put the dishes down in the box and put one puppy at each dish.  Up until this point they only know that sucking gets them food – they do not know how to eat from a dish.  Some catch on very quickly, some need more time.

I sit in the box with the puppies, use my finger to scoop up some of the goat’s milk/turkey mixture and stick my finger in a puppy’s mouth.  I lead the puppy to the dish using my finger.

I have found that once the puppies SMELL the food they start to show more interest.  They usually start by trying to suckle the edge of the dish.  I will push some of the food to the edge of the dish so they get the idea that the dish means food.

Be prepared for the puppies to walk through the mush, sit in the mush, fall in the mush, wear the mush, suckle mush off their siblings and all sorts of other messy fun!

During the first couple feedings the puppies may wear more of the mixture than they eat.  Don’t worry – they will get the hang of it after a few tries.  

Once they have finished showing interest in the mixture I allow the bitch to come back into the box to clean up – the bowls AND the puppies.

I offer this mush to my puppies 3-4 times a day every day for the first week.  

Along with the milk and meat mixture I give my puppies their first Raw Meaty Bones.  I don’t expect the puppies to be able to actually EAT the bones but they do manage to suck / rip some of the meat off the bones and it helps develop their upper body and head, neck and jaw muscles.  I give them the RMBs once each day during the first week.

With large breed puppies I use chicken legs.  I remove the skin, use a knife to make cuts into the meat and then toss them in the box after I have removed the mush.  I make sure to put in enough legs that that every puppy has one and there are a couple extras (so there’s no fighting).

For smaller breed puppies I start with the leg portion of a chicken wing or Cornish hen legs.  Cornish hens are simply younger chickens.  I do the same as above – remove the skin, score the meat and toss them in with the puppies.

At this age the best the puppies can do is suck the meat off the bone.  As they get older you should see them start gnawing and tearing at the meat.  Small breed puppies or those with late dental development (like Chinese Cresteds) will take longer to be able to handle the bones but they will get there.

Again, after the puppies have finished working on their RMBs I allow the bitch in to clean up after them.